South Downs Way

A walk along the chalk downs of Hampshire and Sussex from Winchester in the West to Eastbourne on the East Coast.
South Downs Way Map

click on the map to enlarge

The South Downs Way runs along the length of the chalk downs of Hampshire and Sussex from the historic little city of Winchester to the dazzling white cliffs of Beachy Head overlooking the seaside town of Eastbourne. For much of its length this delightful National Trail meanders along the crest of the Downs, with far-reaching views northwards over the patchwork fields, woods and villages of the Weald and southwards to the sea, but the route also dips into the beautiful river valleys cutting through the Downs and visits some very pretty villages with their friendly old pubs, thatched cottages and gardens bursting with flowers.

History is an ever-present companion to the South Downs Way. The route follows ancient tracks established some 5000 years ago when Stone Age man began to cultivate the Downs and mine for the flint from which he made tools. Later settlers all left their marks on the land in the shape of Bronze Age barrows; Iron Age hill forts; Roman tracks; Saxon churches; Norman churches, cathedrals and castles; deserted medieval villages; and the dew ponds created as watering holes for the great flocks of sheep that grazed on the Downs in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Highlights of the trail include the beautiful cathedral city of Winchester, the Capital of Saxon England; the downland viewpoints of Beacon Hill, Butser Hill, Bignor Hill, Ditchling Beacon and Firle Beacon; the 'Jack and Jill' windmills; the Devil's Dyke, a vast dry valley said to have been carved by Satan to let the sea flood the Weald and destroy all the churches; the picturesque villages of Exton, East Meon, Buriton, South Harting, Amberley and Alfriston; the exhilarating sense of space on top of the Downs; Alfriston's parish church, the 'Cathedral of the Downs'; the 'smallest church in England' at Lullington; the marvellous variety of wildflowers and butterflies found on the sheep-grazed pastures of the Downs; the huge Bronze Age barrows known as the Devil's Jumps; and the spectacular clifftop walk over the Seven Sisters and Beachy Head.

We also offer the South Downs Way as a trail running holiday, for those eager to enjoy this trail at speed. Click here to find out more.

Holiday Highlights

  • Following the impressive chalk downs of Hampshire and Sussex.
  • Exploring the history along the trail, from Winchester Cathedral to Bronze Age Barrows.
  • Arriving in Eastbourne to breath-taking views from Birling Gap, Seven Sisters Cliffs and Beachy Head.

Testimonials

"We've completed our hike along the South Downs Way and I wanted to take a moment to thank you and everyone at Contours Walking Holidays for this incredible experience. The countryside was beautiful, the accommodations first rate, our luggage always on time, and our hosts accommodating and gracious. Thank you so much for this marvellous vacation"
- Mr Andrade. USA

"This was my first time using your services, as I make my own arrangements usually, and I must say that the experiment was a resounding success. The choice of hotels and B&B's was generally very good and the baggage transfers occurred without a hitch. The spacing of segments of the trail was also just right. Thank you for the excellent arrangements overall."
- Mr Calderisi. Canada


South Downs Way

A walk along the chalk downs of Hampshire and Sussex from Winchester in the West to Eastbourne on the East Coast.
Total Distance 100 miles (160 km)
Start and Finish Winchester to Eastbourne
Availability 2nd January to 24th December
click on a photo to enlarge
 South Downs views from the North Downs
South Downs Way Alfriston Church
South Downs Way Seven Sisters
Tour Code Itinerary Tour Price    
SDW1 7 nights, 6 days walking £645 per person More Information Book Online
SDW2 8 nights, 7 days walking £735 per person More Information Book Online
SDW3 9 nights, 8 days walking £825 per person More Information Book Online
SDW4 10 nights, 9 days walking £915 per person More Information Book Online
SDW5 11 nights, 10 days walking £1005 per person More Information Book Online
Our prices are based upon two people sharing a room. If you are walking on your own, or are part of a group, but require a room of your own, one of the following charges applies:
£45 per person / per night
£35 per person / per night
You can add rest days at any of the overnight stops:
Extra night (Standard)
£60 per person / per night
All of our prices are in British pounds (£). Use our currency converter to convert British pounds (£) to your country’s currency.

The price that you pay includes:

  • accommodation on a bed and breakfast basis.
  • door to door luggage transfers for every day of your tour.
  • maps, guidebooks and a tour pack detailing specific information about your holiday.
Don’t have the time for the complete walk?

We also offer The South Downs Way in two sections, giving those with less time the opportunity to complete the trail in stages.

We also offer the South Downs Way - Short Break. Beginning and ending in the charming village of Alfriston, this short walk takes in the beautiful Cuckmere River, the smugglers' haunt of Cuckmere Haven, the dramatic chalk cliffs of the Seven Sisters and Beachy Head as well as the rolling Downs above Wilmington. Stone Age flint mines, Bronze Age barrows, dew ponds, the Long Man of Wilmington and the picturesque villages of Litlington, West Dean and Jevington add to the interest of this superb walk.


South Downs Way - West Section

A walk from Winchester to Amberley along the Chalk South Downs Escarpment.
South Downs Way - West Map

click on the map to enlarge

Total Distance 47.5 miles (76 km)
Start and Finish Winchester to Amberley
Availability 2nd January to 24th December

The West section of the South Downs Way runs from the cathedral city of Winchester, to the beautiful village of Amberley. The trail takes in the Hampshire Downs and West Sussex as it crosses rolling fields and woodland along the route of the chalk South Downs escarpment.

Leaving the historic city of Winchester, home to one of the largest cathedrals in Europe, the way crosses the summit of Old Winchester Hill. Here, the landscape is brimming with history, from Bronze Age barrows to the settlement of a Celtic Chieftain.

The trail then continues over a variety of landscapes, stopping in idyllic English villages such as Cocking and Buriton, before reaching its end in Amberley. Here, the picturesque village, nestled between the South Downs escarpment and the River Arun, offers the perfect end to this stunning section of the South Downs Way.

Holiday Highlights

  • Enjoying the peaceful surroundings, but remaining less than an hour from London.
  • Exploring sites steeped in history, such as Old Winchester Hill with its Iron Age hill fort.
  • Admiring the beautiful thatched cottages on arrival in Amberley.
click on a photo to enlarge
South Downs countryside
South Downs Way Signpost
South Downs Way Footpath
Tour Code Itinerary Tour Price    
SDWW1 4 nights, 3 days walking £365 per person More Information Book Online
SDWW2 5 nights, 4 days walking £455 per person More Information Book Online
SDWW3 6 nights, 5 days walking £545 per person More Information Book Online
Our prices are based upon two people sharing a room. If you are walking on your own, or are part of a group, but require a room of your own, one of the following charges applies:
£45 per person / per night
£35 per person / per night
You can add rest days at any of the overnight stops:
Extra night (Standard)
£60 per person / per night
All of our prices are in British pounds (£). Use our currency converter to convert British pounds (£) to your country’s currency.

The price that you pay includes:

  • accommodation on a bed and breakfast basis.
  • door to door luggage transfers for every day of your tour.
  • maps, guidebooks and a tour pack detailing specific information about your holiday.

South Downs Way - East Section

A walking holiday from Amberley to Eastbourne along the Chalk South Downs Escarpment.
South Downs Way - East Map

click on the map to enlarge

Total Distance 52.5 miles (84 km)
Start and Finish Amberley to Eastbourne
Availability 2nd January to 24th December

The East section of the South Downs Way begins in Amberley and continues along the chalk escarpment of the South Downs until it reaches the white chalk cliffs of Eastbourne. The trail crosses open fields and agricultural land as the chalk cliffs fall away to reveal far reaching views of the English Channel.

On the approach to Lewes, sites of interest such as Devil’s Dyke and Jack and Jill Windmills can be seen, while Lewes itself offers a wealth of history, from its castle, the house of Anne of Cleves and a 15th century bookshop. The trail continues along the ridge of the escarpment to Alfriston in the Cuckmere valley, famed for its ancient buildings and lush surroundings.

Soon, the trail reaches the traditional seaside town of Eastbourne, where there are wonderful views along the coast and a wealth of things to explore, including Birling Gap and the Seven Sisters Cliffs. The dramatic scenery around Eastbourne is a memorable way to complete this section of the South Downs Way.

Holiday Highlights

  • Admiring the spectacular views from the white chalk cliffs and over the English Channel.
  • Exploring the idyllic village of Alfriston, nestled in the beautiful Cuckmere Valley.
  • Arriving in Eastbourne to a memorable finale of high cliffs and dramatic coastline.
click on a photo to enlarge
Beachy Head Lighthouse
South Downs Way rapeseed fields
View from Devil’s Dyke South Downs Way
Tour Code Itinerary Tour Price    
SDWE1 5 nights, 4 days walking £455 per person More Information Book Online
SDWE2 6 nights, 5 days walking £545 per person More Information Book Online
Our prices are based upon two people sharing a room. If you are walking on your own, or are part of a group, but require a room of your own, one of the following charges applies:
£45 per person / per night
£35 per person / per night
You can add rest days at any of the overnight stops:
Extra night (Standard)
£60 per person / per night
All of our prices are in British pounds (£). Use our currency converter to convert British pounds (£) to your country’s currency.

The price that you pay includes:

  • accommodation on a bed and breakfast basis.
  • door to door luggage transfers for every day of your tour.
  • maps, guidebooks and a tour pack detailing specific information about your holiday.

South Downs Way - Short Break

A circular trail from Alfriston via the Seven Sisters Cliffs, Beachy Head and Eastbourne.
South Downs Way - Short Break Map

click on the map to enlarge

Total Distance 18 miles (29 km)
Start and Finish circular trail beginning at Alfriston
Availability 2nd January to 24th December

This short break follows a circular trail that takes in the dramatic white chalk cliffs between the picturesque village of Alfriston and the traditional English seaside town of Eastbourne. From Alfriston, this impressive two-day walk takes the South Downs Way footpath along the Cuckmere River, before entering the Seven Sisters Country Park and following an undulating course over the breath-taking Seven Sisters Cliffs, Birling Gap, Beachy Head and into Eastbourne. On the return section, the way passes inland to follow the bridleway route via Jevington, a quaint village nestled in a streamless valley. Beautiful views over the rolling South Downs are a fitting end to this superb short break as the trail arrives back in Alfriston.

Holiday Highlights

  • Admiring the dramatic coastal views from the Seven Sisters Cliffs, Birling Gap and Beachy Head.
  • Walking through a variety of scenery, from the rolling South Downs to far reaching coastal panoramas.
  • Experiencing the most spectacular section of the South Downs Way in just two days.
click on a photo to enlarge
River Cuckmere near Alfriston South Downs Way
Eastbourne Pier
Seven Sisters cliffs from South Downs Way
Tour Code Itinerary Tour Price    
SDWSB 3 nights, 2 days walking £280 per person More Information Book Online
Our prices are based upon two people sharing a room. If you are walking on your own, or are part of a group, but require a room of your own, one of the following charges applies:
£45 per person / per night
£35 per person / per night
You can add rest days at any of the overnight stops:
Extra night (Standard)
£60 per person / per night
All of our prices are in British pounds (£). Use our currency converter to convert British pounds (£) to your country’s currency.

The price that you pay includes:

  • accommodation on a bed and breakfast basis.
  • door to door luggage transfers for every day of your tour.
  • maps, guidebooks and a tour pack detailing specific information about your holiday.
Tour Code Itinerary Tour Price    
SDWSB-D 3 nights, 2 days walking £310 per person More Information Book Online
£8 per dog / walking day
Our prices are based upon two people sharing a room. If you are walking on your own, or are part of a group, but require a room of your own, one of the following charges applies:
£45 per person / per night
£35 per person / per night
You can add rest days at any of the overnight stops:
Extra night (Standard)
£65 per person / per night
All of our prices are in British pounds (£). Use our currency converter to convert British pounds (£) to your country’s currency.

The price that you pay includes:

  • accommodation on a bed and breakfast basis.
  • door to door luggage transfers for every day of your tour.
  • maps, guidebooks and a tour pack detailing specific information about your holiday.

South Downs Way Taster Breaks

South Downs Way Taster Break - Eastern Section

This holiday itinerary takes in the most southerly stretch of the South Downs Way, arguably one of the most dramatic sections of the entire trail. Starting from Kingston-near-Lewes, the route utilises clear tracks as it travels through quiet valleys and across breezy open spaces, with big views in all directions and a smattering of ancient burial mounds. The trail straddles the ridge of the escarpment to the village of Alfriston in the Cuckmere Valley, famed for its ancient buildings, before following alongside the Cuckmere River through Friston Forest. After this, the trail heads towards its finish at Eastbourne, a traditional seaside town that offers dramatic coastal views from nearby Birling Gap, Seven Sisters Cliffs and Beachy Head.

Holiday Highlights

  • Exploring the many little hamlets and villages along the route, including Iford, Southease, Firle and Westdean.
  • Watching daring paragliders flying from Bostal Hill during the summer.
  • Celebrating the completion of the trail in the lively seaside town of Eastbourne, with plenty of fantastic scenery to enjoy.
Tour Code SDWT1
Total Distance 22 miles (35.5 km)
Start and Finish Kingston-near-Lewes to Eastbourne
Availability 2nd January to 24th December

South Downs Way Taster Break - Central Section

Beginning from the unspoilt village of Buriton, this short break option takes in a central snippet of the South Downs Way, showcasing some of the highlights of this diverse trail. The route passes through an agricultural landscape of hedge-lined fields, woodland and meadows, which blossom into spectacular colour during the spring, and visits the pleasant little village of Cocking with its 11th century church. After this, the trail summits Bignor Hill, offering far-reaching views across the South Downs, before following along the banks of the River Arun. This short break then finishes in Amberley, a beautiful village with thatched cottages, the Norman Church and the ruins of a castle built in 1380.

Holiday Highlights

  • Enjoying the quintessentially English countryside, filled with pretty wildflowers and attractive widlife.
  • Admiring the excellent panoramic views from the crowns of Pen Hill and Bignor Hill.
  • Wandering through the attractive village of Amberley as a reward for completing your holiday.
Tour Code SDWT2
Total Distance 23 miles (36.5 km)
Start and Finish Buriton to Amberley
Availability 2nd January to 24th December
click on a photo to enlarge
Eastbourne Pier
South Downs Way Seven Sisters
South Downs Way Signpost
Tour Code Itinerary Tour Price    
SDWT1 3 nights, 2 days walking £290 per person More Information Book Online
SDWT2 3 nights, 2 days walking £290 per person More Information Book Online
Our prices are based upon two people sharing a room. If you are walking on your own, or are part of a group, but require a room of your own, one of the following charges applies:
£45 per person / per night
£35 per person / per night
You can add rest days at any of the overnight stops:
Extra night (Standard)
£60 per person / per night
All of our prices are in British pounds (£). Use our currency converter to convert British pounds (£) to your country’s currency.

The price that you pay includes:

  • accommodation on a bed and breakfast basis.
  • door to door luggage transfers for every day of your tour.
  • maps, guidebooks and a tour pack detailing specific information about your holiday.